Dec 29, 12
Read in December, 2012
I won this from Tor publishing house from a book blog contest.
This book is apparently a retelling of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I have never read Jane Eyre, so I think this book did better for me than most of the other reviewers I read, since I didn't have the original story in my head being sullied by this retelling.
Adele is a young woman who was scarred during the Great War. A fey bomb exploded near her brother during a battle with the fey, and pieces of the bomb were embedded in her face. The fey pieces stuck in her face cause great rage in Adele. They used to induce rage in others around Adele until she was scooped up from her home and taken to an ironmonger who has figured out that covering the parts of people that were damaged by fey bombs with iron keeps their curses from affecting those around them. Adele now lives wtih an iron mask that covers the scarred part of her face. This iron mask keeps her very separate from the rest of society, including her superficial and selfish sister.
Adele eventually left the ironmonger and the other poeple cursed/injured by exploded fey bombs to work as a teacher. When the men who survived the Great War start trickling back into society, though, she looses her spot as a teacher. She therefore accepts a position as a governess for a little girl who was damaged during the Great War.
Dorie, the little five year old girl, is not scarred by a fey bomb like the other cursed people that Jane knows. Instead, her mother's body was taken over by a fey while Dorie was still in the womb, and this has left Dorie with fey-like powers. Given these powers, Dorie has not learned to live like a regular human being. She cannot use her hands well because she has telekinetic capabilities and so has never needed to learn to use her hands. She can't feed herself of cloth herself. At the beginning of the book, Dories, almost never speaks, but clacks instead. This clacking might have been from fey-induced changes, but that is never really explained.
Dorie's father, Mr. Edward Rochart, lives in the same isolated house with Jane and Dorie, but is almost never around. He disappears for weeks at a time. When he is home, he disappears into his workroom for weeks at a time and makes hundreds of creepy clay masks with distorted and ugly appearances. The house is also spooky because it is very undertaffed, and is located right next to the woods, from whence all the fey came before they attacked and started the Great War.
I can't say a whole lot about the rest of the plot because it will give up too many of the secrets that are slowly unvieled in this book. The book is very gothic. I'm not a huge gothic book fan- the stories are too creepy (I'm easy scared) and the buildup is usually too slow for me. A usual gothic story, if I even finished it, would be a 2 star rating, so for this book to get a 3-1/2 star rating means it's a better than normal gothic story. It seemed sort of wierd to have a YA gothic story, though- I am used to them being adult books.
There did not seem to be enough interactions between Edward and Jane for them to fall in love, so the romance part of the story seemed somewhat contrived. Jane, given her facial deformity, was of course somewhat obsessed with not being as beautiful as the other women that Edward is normally around. I couldn't make myself believe that Jane would be so patient with Dorie, especially as I wanted to slap Dorie most of the time! But I did enjoy the fey parts of the story, as well as the presence of a dwarf.
If I recommended this book to someone, I would tell them to see if their library had it rather than purchasing it.
I just finished Ironskin yesterday, and coincidentally today started The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn, which is also a gothic novel, just like this one. Reading the 2 so close together, however, made me realize how much more palatable a gothic can be if it is a great author like Raybourn writing it. Ironskin suffers greatly in comparison.